You can search for a review for the trail up the Western side of Shasta Bally in the Whiskeytown Recreation Unit, and chances are this will be the only one you will find. At some point in history there had been a maintained jeep road there, now a primitive, deteriorating, arduous trail exists.
We started at a gate just past Coggins Park, amazingly, with the delusion this would somehow be better than the road up the Eastern side of Shasta Bally from Brandy Creek. There is a reason why things get forgotten, and the back road to Shasta Bally is a perfect example. Riding Mountain Bikes, meant pushing became necessary within the first few miles, and was something we had to get used to all the way to the top.
The first three and a half miles gains six hundred feet of elevation before arriving where the road had been washed out. About half of the distance, to here was spent out of the saddle pushing up a steep road. This is a great place to have a snack, and get ready for the carnage to come.
Once past the washout it is downhill, for a loss of five hundred feet in elevation, and then the steep rock strewed trail along the side of Shasta Bally begins a 1,200 foot ascent for the next one and a half miles. This section of the trail is difficult, steep, and rocky, leaving a gray scar that cuts across the Eastern side of Shasta Bally from South to North through brush with only one switchback. There are many great views to the North and East, revealing Bully Choop, the Trinity Alps, Mt. Shasta, and Castle Crags. This rocky trail is visible from the County Line Road, heading south from Buckhorn Summit to Coggins Park, and again once past the gate of the Shasta Bally road itself.
The rocks finally give way to something more manageable right before reaching the Northern ridge line. A short downhill gives up another 150 feet of elevation. There is nearly a mile of traversing below the Northern rocky face before the final 700 foot climb to the summit. The traverse is filled with vistas of the Northeast, where Mt. Shasta stands tall in the distance with Castle Crags, Lassen Peak, and Whiskeytown Lake below. Most of the final climb is done on the access road on the Eastern side of Mt. Bally. Anyone who has been on Shasta Bally knows that it’s road is a relentless climb, and after the trial of the Western ascent the road finished of what energy I had left.
The summit of Shasta Bally has vistas, but they require hiking through brush to get to them. The entire West side is home to a repeater station that forbids entry, so there is nothing to see over there. I enjoyed the views from the Western ascent more than from the top, and that is one redeeming quality of the Western ascent of Mt. Bally.
The downhill to the rocky trail was fun, and fast. Once on the Western descent, it was all about brakes, and weaving through obstacles galore. This section of the downhill was an over the bars buffet, but neither of us went over. Unbelievably, we could stay on the bike almost ninety percent of the downhill.
After surviving the rocky slope there was the 500 vertical foot climb ahead of us. This was definitely a push all the way up to the washed out road. Once on the other side, it is only a short uphill to the final descent.
This is not a ride! This is a difficult hike where the bicycle is mainly used to speed up the descent. The only riders who should attempt this trek should have advanced or expert downhill skill levels. I enjoyed this trek, but I think most people would absolutely hate it.